(photo credit: REUTERS)
Americans have been addicted to it for years, and if local media reports prove true, Israelis are next in line.
According to the reports, Internet movie-streaming giant Netflix is looking into expanding its services to the Israeli market, a move that could take a bite out of the profits of HOT, Yes, Cellcom and other companies.
The California-based on-demand media giant was established in 1997 and boasts more than 40 million subscribers around the world.
According to Calcalist, Netflix ordered a market survey to determine what pricing model would work in Israel, which found a NIS 30-40 monthly charge would be suitable. That could offer serious competition to cable and satellite providers that charge three to four times that amount. The Netflix.co.il domain, which redirects to Netflix.com, has been registered to the company since 2010, the report noted.
But Teleseker, the company Calcalist said conducted the survey, denied having carried out a survey on that topic – or any polling for Netflix.
But the rumors do not stop there. TheMarker reported that outgoing IBA director Yona Weisenthal received a request from the streaming behemoth to run its Israel operations.
A Netflix entry would most directly compete with Cellcom, which recently entered the television market with a video-on-demand streaming device. It could potentially rob its Israeli competitors of Netflix-produced content, such as Orange is the New Black or House of Cards, which they license.
On the other hand, Netflix could face challenges of its own. Many young Israelis, who have grown used to pirating films and television shows from the Internet, may not be ready to pony up for a legitimate streaming service, potentially making the market less attractive.
Hot, Yes and Cellcom also offer discounted packages that include Internet, phone and/or cellular, potentially making a separate content source less appealing.
Another complicating factor could come from Apple, which is expected to announce an upgraded Apple TV in its September 9 event. Analysts believe Apple will begin offering streaming content through the device, but it is not clear if or when that would be available in Israel.
Netflix did not respond to requests for comment from The Jerusalem Post.